Wednesday, April 08, 2020

FOMC Minutes: Zero Rates until "weathered recent events"

by Calculated Risk on 4/08/2020 02:07:00 PM

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, March 15, 2020. A few excerpts:

All participants viewed the near-term U.S. economic outlook as having deteriorated sharply in recent weeks and as having become profoundly uncertain. Many participants had repeatedly downgraded their outlook of late in response to the rapidly evolving situation. All saw U.S. economic activity as likely to decline in the coming quarter and viewed downside risks to the economic outlook as having increased significantly. Participants noted that the timing of the resumption of growth in the U.S. economy depended on the containment measures put in place, as well as the success of those measures, and on the responses of other policies, including fiscal policy.
...
Participants all agreed that the effects of the pandemic would weigh on economic activity in the near term and that the duration of this period of weakness was uncertain. They further concurred that the unpredictable effects of the coronavirus outbreak were a source of major downside risks to the economic outlook.

In their consideration of monetary policy at this meeting, most participants judged that it would be appropriate to lower the target range for the federal funds rate by 100 basis points, to 0 to 1/4 percent. In discussing the reasons for such a decision, these participants pointed to a likely decline in economic activity in the near term related to the effects of the coronavirus outbreak and the extremely large degree of uncertainty regarding how long and severe such a decline in activity would be. In light of the sharply increased downside risks to the economic outlook posed by the global coronavirus outbreak, these participants noted that risk-management considerations pointed toward a forceful monetary policy response, with the majority favoring a 100 basis point cut that would bring the target range to its effective lower bound (ELB). With regard to monetary policy beyond this meeting, these participants judged that it would be appropriate to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent until policymakers were confident that the economy had weathered recent events and was on track to achieve the Committee's maximum employment and price stability goals.
emphasis added